TRADE Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, has explained that Nigerians oppose the government interpretation of deregulation in the downstream sector of the nation’s Petroleum industry because it became an instrument for foisting hardship on the citizenry by the government.
TUC accused government of mis-representing the facts about de-regulation saying that is why Nigerians perceived it for what it is; a contrivance to hike the prices of petroleum products and make life more difficult for the hapless and hopeless citizens of the country.
In a paper on “Efficient management of public perception in implementing government policies-De-regulation and local content”, President-General of TUC, Comrade Peter Esele said; “De-regulation is simply the opposite of regulation and in essence, it means the absence of regulation. In the context of the downstream sector, it is actually supposed to mean the freeing of the operations of the sector from the fetters of governmental controls and dictates and leaving it to run within the ambits of market determined choices.
“This therefore especially in the area of Pricing, seeks to allow the forces of the market to drive the determination of the prices of petroleum products within the market and removing the pervasive influence of governmental agencies like the PPPRA. It was therefore designed to make the market more efficient eliminating costs that are artificial in the process envisaging in the long run to make the sector more robust, fully domesticated as every facet of it becomes activated tapping into the freedom to eventually drive down the prices of products.”
“If this is the theoretical understanding of de-regulation in the downstream petroleum sector, a rational mind would wonder why it has raised so much dust within the nation’s polity over time and why Nigerians would have to march on the streets for almost two weeks in resistance to that supposedly laudable policy of government.
“The quagmire is in the interpretation of government of what constitutes de-regulation. Government agents mischievously decided to couch the hike in prices of petroleum products under the veil of de-regulation. Instead of de-regulation wearing its full meaning, it became an instrument for foisting hardship on the citizenry because there was no truth in what the government was trying to sell to the public.”
According to Esele, who is the immediate past President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, “Nigerians are generally not opposed to this policy but are opposed with operational side of this policy which takes away the real meaning of de-regulation and that is why Nigerians made the demand that if de-regulation means price hike then, it is not for us but if it is for efficient downstream operations, then, we are all for it.
We can therefore easily accuse government of misrepresenting the facts and that was why Nigerians perceived it for what it is; a contrivance to hike the prices of petroleum products and make life more difficult for the hapless and hopeless citizens of the country.”
“On the other hand, Local content as it concerns the downstream sector is about making the oil and gas sector more domestic driven or internalising its activities by making most of the components of the industry more Nigerian. It ensures that an increasing percentage of the operations of the industry are handled by Nigerian owned businesses and individuals and not by foreigners.
“This is hoped would help in making the positive multipliers in the industry more impactful on the domestic economy than otherwise. It is envisaged that more and more of the technology and components deployed in the various production activities within the sector and the Service sector of the same industry are indigenous.”
“We have established thus far that the public’s interpretation of government’s policy especially in the downstream petroleum sector have always been in contradiction with government’s understanding of why they embarked on such policies in the first place. Why has government’s insistence on altruism in its efforts been met with outright rebuff by the masses or sometimes total indifference? Is it that the citizenry has decided to reject its own government or that there is a gross misunderstanding between the people and the government?
Having situated these policies within the context of our analysis, the next logical quest will be to seek an understanding of the factors that have made most of the policies of government within the downstream sector of the petroleum industry very perceptibly disagreeable with the populace.”